Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Recipes for Abundant Veggies


I don't know about you guys, but summer is in full swing here in Arkansas.  The negatives:  we've had several days over 100 degrees.  So much for going outside.  The positives:  farmers' markets and CSA boxes are bursting with veggies.  With the Fourth of July just around the corner, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite recipes for fresh cookout food!





























I love how vibrant and beautiful all the vegetables look!  With these dishes, you'll be sure to wow all of your friends at the next BBQ.  



Don't forget, if you live in Central Arkansas, the first annual Very Veggie Fourth of July is on Thursday night.  Check out my interview with the organizer here!

What's your favorite summer recipe?  Do you have big plans for the Fourth of July?  Leave me a comment!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Very Veggie Fourth of July


This coming July 2nd, the Bernice Garden will host an all vegetarian festival to celebrate the Fourth of July, typically a meat-centric holiday.  I was so excited to hear of this event, and it shows our growing community in Central Arkansas.

I recently spoke with Amelia Robert, the event's organizer, and her enthusiasm for great food and veggie culture in Little Rock was evident.  This is going to be a wonderful, family friendly party, so come on down to SoMa and eat some great food!  See my interview with Amelia below:


Please tell me about yourself and your connection to the vegetarian/vegan community.

            I've been a vegetarian for what will be 4 years this coming August. I made the decision to go all veggie after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals, a fantastic read that I would recommend to anyone and everyone! I love being vegetarian, and I've never questioned that choice. There's nothing like the camaraderie you experience when you meet a fellow vegan/vegetarian!

            I'm a New Orleans native, and I moved to Arkansas to attend Hendrix College. I graduated in 2014 with a degree in Sociology and Health, and decided to stick around in Little Rock for a while. What I love about Little Rock is its spirit of constant growth, renewal, and improvement. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is bringing something new and fun to the city, and those new ideas are welcomed and embraced. There are so many people working to make Little Rock a better and better place to live!

How did the “Very Veggie Fourth of July” come about, and who were the people involved in making this event happen?

            I follow VegNews and a few other vegetarian publications on social media, and they're constantly posting about "this city's all-vegetarian food truck festival, that city's all-vegan ice-cream competition," and that got me thinking, "why not a vegetarian festival in Little Rock?" Little Rock is really putting itself on the  map as a foodie city, and I think part of being a major food hub is not only having great food, but a variety of food, so that people with diverse dietary styles can all find something to eat and enjoy. Solfood Catering has been hosting their super fun Urban Raw Festival for a few years, so I knew there was an audience in Central Arkansas for a vegetarian festival.

            When I was hashing out the idea of a vegetarian festival, I spoke with Bo Bennett, who runs the Bernice Garden Farmer's Market, about the logistics of putting together an event like this. I contacted a few local vendors to gauge the interest level, and was blown away by the enthusiasm I was met with! Once I knew vendors would be interested in participating, I contacted Bernice Garden, and Veggie Fourth of July was born! I decided to focus the festival around the Fourth of July because it can be a pretty meat-centric holiday. I thought it'd be fun to offer vegetarians and vegans a meat-free gathering! I've also been pitching the event to meat eaters by saying that if you've got a vegetarian friend or family member attending your 4th of July cookout this year, and are at a loss for what to serve them, Veggie Fourth will show you some fun, unique dishes they're sure to enjoy!

What vendors will be on hand?

Solfood Catering, Box Pupoli, The Veg LLC, Kent WalkerArtisan Cheese, Stone's Throw Brewing, Le Pops, Geri's Jellies, Pup Eats Treats, and Bo Bennett with some info on the Farmer's Market SNAP program (and some local peaches, I'm told!)

Will there be vegan as well as vegetarian options for diners?

Absolutely! Both Solfood Catering and The Veg LLC serve exclusively vegan dishes. Le Pops should also have some fruit-juice bars that will be vegan-friendly.

This is the first time for this event.  Is there hope that it will be an annual event?  Are there aspirations of having more than one a year?

            I would love to see this turn into an annual event, and I'd love to see it grow! If this festival goes well, more vegetarian festivals throughout the year would certainly be a consideration (A Very Veggie Thanksgiving would be fun!) I like the idea of there being a venue for vegetarians to meet up with each other and share ideas, and for people who are considering going meat-free to go to explore the vegetarian lifestyle.

Have you seen the support for vegetarian/vegan food grow in Central Arkansas in the past several years?  Has that driven the desire to host this festival?

            I've only been in Arkansas for 5 years, but even in that amount of time I've seen support for vegan/vegetarianism grow. 5 years ago, going to any sort of festival felt risky, like there may or may not be something for me to eat, but now there's almost always a meat-free option (which reminds me, I've been wanting to try and set up a vegan booth at Little Rock Bacon Festival this year. I think that'd be funny, and we'd definitely be reaching a new audience there!) And I think the support in Central Arkansas reflects a national trend. A lot more major food companies are introducing vegan and vegetarian options. Certain Wendy's locations are trying out a veggie burger, and Ben and Jerry's is introducing a vegan ice cream. Maybe people are turning towards vegan and vegetarianism as a way to cut down on cholesterol and saturated fat?

            Obviously, it's a great time to be a vegetarian, but people still ask me all the time if it's hard. By rounding up and showcasing a group of vegetarian vendors, I'm showing people that vegetarianism is more accessible than they think, and it can be a lot of fun, too!

How many people are you hoping will attend?

My goal is to meet (or hopefully exceed!) 150 people.

Why was the Bernice Garden chosen as the spot for this event?

            SOMA is such a fun place to hold a festival because it's a neighborhood specifically designed to be engaging and fun. When I first contacted Bernice Garden, they were enthusiastic about the idea, and I've been met with nothing but encouragement from other SOMA residents, so it feels like the venue is a good fit. I'm hoping that families will walk by Bernice and see "Wow, this festival has a treat for my dog, a popsicle for my kids, and a vegan chick'n biscuit for me!"

Please provide any further information that you would like readers to know about your event.

            A Very Veggie Fourth of July will take place from 4-7 PM on Thursday, July 2. Admission will be free, and vendors will be selling prepared dishes on site. All ages and leashed pets are welcome to attend. Everyone is welcome here; vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. I'm also looking for a couple of volunteers to help with set up and take-down, so any interested parties can email me at ameliafrobert@gmail.com, or call at (504) 232-8098. And because there will be a lot of delicious food, attendees should come hungry! 

Amelia also informed me that Ben Brenner, a local blue and Americana artist, will be on hand for live music!


I'm very excited by all the passionate people in Little Rock that are working hard to make this city a great place to live.  If you are in town on July 2nd, come to this awesome event!  It's the first year, and everyone wants to see it succeed, so please share this with anyone you might know that would like to attend.

Check out the facebook event page here.

LR peeps, are you planning on attending?  What is your favorite vegan dish in the city?  Non LR peeps, does your city have vegetarian festivals?  Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Easy Vegan Work Lunch Ideas


Today I'm bringing you two zucchini salads I have on a constant rotation.  They're so satisfying, and they're really easy to make.  You can bring them to work or just whip them up in your kitchen.  Either way, your tummy will be happy.



Zucchini Tahini Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized or shredded on a mandoline
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 to 1/2 avocado
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 2 tbs raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 - 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  1. Before you go, assemble the veggies in a large container.
  2. When you're ready for lunch, add lemon juice and tahini and mix vigorously.  Enjoy!
  3. Optional:  you can hit this with a crack of sea salt if you'd like, but it's not necessary.


If I have a workout coming up that afternoon, I usually have this salad with a smoothie.


My next salad obsession is like raw pad Thai.  It's a little more decadent, but it's full of flavor!


This one I like to make the night before and then top with cashews and some extra hot sauce.  I have made a couple variations so far, but they're all tasty.


Raw-ish Pad Thai Salad

Ingredients
  • 2 zucchini, spiralized or shredded with the mandoline
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage, green or red
  • 2 tbs green onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • Peanut Sauce
    • 2 tbs peanut butter
    • 2 tbs tamari
    • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tbs sriracha
  • 2 cups lettuce
  • Raw cashews for topping
  1. Toss veggies (not lettuce) with sauce and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  2. Place over bed of lettuce.
  3. Top with cashews and more sriracha!



Of course, variety is the spice of life, so play with it and see what additions you like best.  These are jumping off points, and the possibilities are endless!

Do you like raw zucchini noodles?  What's your favorite zucchini noodle salad?  Leave me a comment!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Vegan Eats and Life Lately





My mantra lately is:  eat yo greens, crush it in the gym, and smile!  That's all it really takes for me to feel awesome and content, so that's what I've been trying to do.  That said, I have been making room for treats every now and then, too.


We're loving our CSA box, and I try to use it as much as possible.  Dinners have looked a lot like this lately:  protein, carbohydrate, and a ton of greens.


I've been batch cooking sweet potatoes on the weekend, then I throw them in my big ass salads for lunch.  I love a good, hearty salad.  You can't go wrong if you throw in a bunch of stuff you like.


For this salad, I had a bunch of leftover roasted broccoli and avocado dressing, so I threw it all together with some fresh, local lettuce, and topped everything with hemp seeds.  A hearty lunch like this will set you right.


I had a double workout with my friend, Erin, and I came home and needed to EAT ALL THE GREENS.  So, I had a batch freezer burrito, kale, and a salad.  We're getting to the end of our freezer burritos, so I'm thinking of ideas for a new recipe!



Sometimes you just need avo toast, but since I'm all about those greens, I try to get in a bowl of them on the side.


I'm still drinking smoothies for breakfast every day, but most lunches are salads and dinners are greens/veggies.  It's a rhythm that is working out so well for me.  Of course, there are variations, but that's my optimal day.



Under the "treat" category, Josh and I got a growler from Lost 40 and takeout from Three Fold last weekend.  It was glorious.


We have also been really obsessed with Moscow Mules lately, so we picked up these cool copper mugs.  I think we may have got the wrong ones, though.  Does anyone know if they're supposed to be copper on the inside, too?  We accidentally picked up steel lined ones.


I picked up this 5 year journal on Amazon the other day, and I'm really liking it.  There's a day on each page, and there are 5 spaces for entry under the day.  So, you write a line every day for 5 year, and as you come back through the years, you can see what you wrote on that day.  It's cheesy, but I like that kind of thing.  I figured, since we just got married, it would be a fun thing to start.


On marriage in general, I'm feeling so happy.  I don't feel like our relationship has changed from the 10 years of dating, but we're definitely riding a high from having such a kick ass party.  Josh's ring from Etsy finally showed up, and he loves it.  We are counting the days until the honeymoon.

What have you been eating lately?  What's your optimal day of eating look like?  Leave me a comment!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Foodshed Farms CSA: Weeks 4 & 5


The summer is heating up in Central Arkansas, and the variety of veggies is awesome!  For $25 dollars a week, we're getting these amazing boxes of produce, and I love it.  Josh thinks it's a bit on the expensive side, but I've found myself going to the grocery store a lot less.  I love trying to make meals around what's in season.  I really hope they do a winter box as well.

Week 4

Here's what we got on the 4th week!


More kale!  I love how many greens we've received so far.  I like the dino kale better, but these are still tasty.


The lettuce is starting to peter out, but romaine was a nice item in our box.


We got a nice, big bag of broccoli, which I roasted up for salads.


Summer squash was in the box as well, which I was excited to saute up!


This box brought a couple cucumbers!  They'll be tasty on salads.  When I get a big enough batch, I'm going to make my cucumber summer salad.


Yay cauliflower!


These red onions were part of my coleslaw last week.  They were really great.


Last but not least were the beets!  I scrub them down and roast them into chips, and they are amazing!  I used to peel the skin, but now I just wash it really well and roast it with the beets.  Is that what most of you guys do?

Week 5


Week 5 of the CSA box was bursting with greens!  There has been a pretty steady flow of lettuce, carrots, and broccoli right now, and I'm loving it.


This week, we got a huge bag of green beans.  I need to put these on the "cook immediately" list, because I have a bad habit of letting green beans go bad.  It such a shame!


This beautiful lettuce will be great on sandwiches and salads.  We didn't get any greens in the box, and this was the only lettuce.  Seems like it's time for summer veggies to start picking up.


We got this really cute onion, which was so flavorful and strong.  It went great in some tofu scramble I batch cooked for burritos.


More carrots!  Woohoo!  I love that there's still dirt on them.  I really know that my food is coming straight from the ground.


All the broccoli that we've received has been so delicious.  I want more!


There has been a TON of summer squash lately.  Anyone know of a good squash recipe?


This cucumber is super cute.  I'm going to slice it up for a sandwich!


We got these two huge anaheim pepper pepper, too.  Yum!

BONUS!  Here are a few things I've been doing with my CSA goodies.  I roasted the beets, broccoli, and cauliflower, and I tossed it with some lettuce, local pecans, and quinoa.  Yum!



I had that same salad with the cucumbers and some slaw from these sliders.  I topped it with tahini, which has been my go-to salad topping lately.


I threw in a couple beets with my cacao and cherry smoothie!  Yum!


Veggies make me smile!

What veggies are making you smile?  Any great local produce around your area?  Leave me a comment!